16-0808 v3.1/Pikes Peak Summit Complex/Emergency Generator at Altitude and Severe Cold


Our project seeks an exception to allow for the use of a diesel generator, for emergency purposes only. The project is located at a location of 14,115 feet above sea level. As such, an emergency generator is a life safety issue since it provides full backup to the heating system (which is electric) and communications equipment that not only serves the building, but emergency response equipment for the region as well. Despite the building being very well insulated, it is possible that a high-alpine storm could cause a loss of power for an extended period of time - possibly days. If occupants are stranded on the summit, a backup power system is critical given that the site is exposed to -50F temperatures and 130+ MPH winds. A weather station on the summit confirms that this project is in Climate Zone 8.  

Additionally, the temperature extremes on the summit (ranging from -50 to +60 degrees) mean that a pressure relief valve would release propane into the atmosphere through the relief valve as temperature swings affect the pressure inside the tank. While propane has a relatively low greenhouse warming potential (GWP 3.3), the certainty of releasing this gas into the atmosphere due to the temperature fluctuations is obviously undesirable.  

Propane is also considered a far more dangerous system and life safety hazard in this installation. The Mount Evans Crest House was also located in Colorado at a similar altitude and was destroyed in a fire ignited by the propane system. In a similar environment, emergency response was hindered by the location, resulting in a total loss of the structure. This building is expected to receive over 600,000 visitors per year, making life safety of paramount importance. 

Batteries have been reviewed, but are unrealistic for a project and system this size due to the duration of time that a system may be called upon to perform in emergency situations. The backup system may be required to operate for days in the event of a severe alpine storm. 

Given these circumstances, our team would like to utlize a diesel generator to ensure the functionality of the system and that life-safety needs are met. We believe that the location and resulting climate make this exception very limited in applicability.  


The team has made the case that propane is a life safety hazard at the location of the project, and that backup power is essential to life safety due to the extreme climate conditions and remoteness of the site. Battery backup for 10% of lighting & refrigeration for one week is still required, but may be supplemented with a diesel generator based on Exception I06-E13,  amended to the following:
I06-E13 Critical Infrastructure and Life Safety - Emergency Power
Critical infrastructure projects or projects in which emergency power is a life safety issue (e.g., hospitals, fire stations, transportation depots)may use combustion for emergency backup power. Diesel backup generators are only allowed in situations where propane backup generators are unable to provide functionality necessary to the facility, have a significant negative impact due to danger, or have a significant negative environmental impact. The project team must describe their efforts to minimize the amount of backup power required and make a case through the Dialogue for approval to use this Exception.
06-a Exception Narrative

Post ID 6007

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